Danny McDonald seems to have hit the jackpot with his Portage La Prairie-based Triple 7 Tours.
McDonald began Triple 7 Tours in 1995 with a 24-passenger bus, taking people on day trips to casinos. While he still uses this small unit, he has progressed into renting larger 56 passenger travel busses for trips to Regina, Brandon and Winnipeg and for other trips beyond casinos.
Whether is it 20 people to garage sales or 110 for New Year's Eve in Regina, McDonald provides the transport and some of the entertainment. Groups call upon his services to organize and provide transport for sports teams, seniors and agricultural tours.
For example, sports teams that would need two or three vans to drive their athletes to tournaments find value in hiring MacDonald who can get them to and from the event in one vehicle.
Community Futures Heartland provided assistance for the business plan preparation, technical assistance and ultimately the finances to get this endeavour rolling down the highway. Entrepreneurial training was also provided in the early months after start up. This venture has proved successful thus far and the loan was recently repaid in full.
"Heartland assisted me in every step of the way. They went the extra mile for mentoring and developing my creative ideas. They applied a common sense approach to muddle through the endless number of questions I presented, at times on a weekly basis. I surely couldn't have done this without them," said McDonald.
So far the venture has provided employment for McDonald and recently provided full time employment for some of his family members. His son joined the team recently as a driver for the bus, and his two daughters also work as hostesses on the tours as needed.
The entire family is becoming more involved in this enterprise and the children are organizing their own tour themes and routes and using McDonald's bus as transportation.
Outside of this family, there are 7 contact people in various communities in South Central Manitoba who help to coordinate the monthly tours from these rural towns.
McDonald has been able to serve a niche market in some of these small communities. His monthly tours are seen as entertainment to seniors who otherwise may not have access to this type of outings or enjoyment in their area.
The ability to provide customized charters, with exceptional features like door-to-door service in local and inter-provincial destinations is creating a successful tour company.
For the past couple years he has even taken 42 people on 17-day trips to Arizona, Nevada and California and another to Memphis, Branson and St. Louis. These once-a-year tours are becoming a regular adventure as over half of the patrons book for the following year virtually upon their return.
McDonald sees his regular and repeat clients as a sure sign he is doing something the right way.